Karelo-Finnish Laika: Everything You Need to Know

The Karelian-Finnish Laika is a red-honey game dog, in 2006 united into one breed with the Finnish Spitz. She proved herself well in hunting small fur-bearing animals, some species of birds, and wild boar.

The Karelian-Finnish Laika is a noisy red-haired beauty, with proper training, capable of filling its own owner with hunting trophies. Possessing a mass of indisputable advantages, including such important qualities for a commercial breed as resourcefulness, courage, intuitive flair, these energetic hunters are the standard of self-sufficiency. That is why the possession of a Karelian imposes several obligations on its owner: this is not the dog that will love you despite everything, its respect and gratitude will have to be literally earned.

The Karlo-Finnish Laika is perhaps the most deprived of the domestic breeds, whose representatives have not been awarded their own standard and have been absorbed by the more popular canine clan. Karelian huskies appeared in Tsarist Russia at the end of the 19th century, and their main concentration was in the north and west of the country. Subsequently, the animals that lived in the border areas began to spontaneously interbreed with Finnish hunting dogs, which led to the birth of a separate pedigree branch. In fact, these were the first Karelian-Finnish huskies, with which the inhabitants of the northern provinces very successfully went to the wood grouse.

In 1936, the Karelians came to the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, where they pleasantly surprised the dog handlers. And in 1939 they even tried to standardize them, but at first, the low number of livestock interfered with the case, and then – the Great Patriotic War. In the late 40s, Soviet breeders set out to turn the Karelian-Finnish huskies into universal hunters, starting to knit them with Finnish Spitz. As a result, the animals dramatically improved their exterior performance, which became the impetus for the large-scale import of Finnish Spitz into the USSR and the subsequent uncontrolled pumping of the breed. It got to the point that by the 80s, most individuals from domestic nurseries carried 70% of the blood of the Finnish Spitz.

In 1984, the question of standardizing the Karelian-Finnish huskies arose again. This time, members of the Leningrad Society of Hunters and Fishermen took up the problem, who did not bother too much and ranked the animals as part of the Finnish Spitz family. However, the final “disbandment” of the breed took place only in 2006, after the chairman of the Finnish Kennel Club and the president of the RKF signed an official agreement, according to which the Finnish Spitz and the Karelian-Finnish Laika were declared a single breeding branch and received a common standard of appearance. This created the illusion of a certain order but did not stop the debate about the differences between the two canine clans. In particular, modern specialists testing the hunting talents of “Finns” and “Karelians” assure that the performance of dogs is not the same, and the merger of the two breeds into one did not bring any practical benefit to either the animals or their owners.

The Karelian-Finnish Laika is a medium-sized hunting breed with fluffy “honey” hair and brown or black eyes. The dog has a dry, sturdy type of constitution, practically a square format. “Boys” are on average slightly larger and more massive than “girls”. The breed standard defines the following parameters: height at the withers – 42-50 cm (for males) and 38-46 cm (for females ; bodyweight – 12-13 kg and 7-10 kg, respectively.

The Karelian skull looks oval from above and slightly convex from the sides. The brows and occipital protuberance are not very pronounced, as is the frontal groove. The stop of the representatives of this breed is clearly traced, but not too sharp. The muzzle is narrow, with a flat back, dry.

The dog’s jaws are massive, closed in a tight scissor bite. The teeth are strong, even, symmetrically set.

The nose is miniature, coal-colored.

The Karelian-Finnish huskies have not very large, almond-shaped eyes set somewhat obliquely. The iris of the eye is colored dark.

Ears set high, erect. The auricle is small, pointed in shape, the outer side is hidden under a layer of thick short hair.

The neck of the Karelian-Finnish Laika is of normal length, but due to the voluminous woolen “collar”, it gives the impression of being short and thick.

The correct “Karelian-Finn” is distinguished by a strong physique. The body of the dog is square with a straight back, massive, sloping croup, and well-defined withers. The belly is slightly tucked up.

The legs of the Karelian-Finnish Laika are straight, set parallel to each other. The forelegs are characterized by a well-developed skeleton, mobile, slightly inclined shoulder blades, and a normal length of the metacarpus. The hind legs of this breed are strong, with fleshy thighs, muscular shins, and low hocks. The dog’s paws are rounded, almost feline, while the front paws are slightly shorter than the hind ones.

The length of the tail of the Karelian-Finnish Laika is up to the hock. The part of the tail bordering on the base is steeply turned towards the back, due to which the rest of it rushes down and hangs down to the thigh.

On the head and frontal part of all four limbs, the hair is comparatively short. On the body, tail, and thighs, the coat is longer, more luxuriant, noticeably lagging behind the body. The guard hair on the shoulder blades of males is especially prominent – it is hard and stands almost upright.

The backs of the Karelian-Finnish huskies are colored more intensely and are of rich red or reddish-golden tones. The cheekbones, the inside of the ears, legs, and tail, as well as the chest and lower abdomen of the dog, are noticeably lighter. It is normal to have white spots on the legs and a light blaze on the chest.

The most typical defects of the Karelian-Finnish Laikas are a large head, a weighted muzzle, an underdeveloped lower jaw, an excessively or insufficiently curled tail. Often, among the Karelians, you can find such deviations from the standard as sharp transitions between color shades, hanging to the sides, tilted back or directed towards each other by the tips of the ears, as well as soft pasterns. If we are talking about the disqualifying defects of the breed, then these include:

  • blue and yellow iris colors;
  • overly soft ear tips;
  • any deviations from the standard bite;
  • wool with a wave or pronounced curl;
  • large white marks on the chest and the same “socks” on the legs of the animal;
  • depigmented lobe;
  • unreasonable aggression directed at a person.

The Karelian-Finnish Laika is a cheerful, positive creation, but at the same time with a great sense of dignity, which should not even be touched by a beloved and adored owner. In general, “Karelian-Finns” are self-sufficient pets, responding with an even, benevolent attitude to good treatment and distrust and nervousness to a rude, authoritarian style of leadership. By the way, it is easiest to understand that a four-footed friend is offended by the tail, which straightens out in irritated animals.

In childhood and adolescence, the Karelian-Finnish Laika gives the impression of being extremely dependent on the owner. She is an obedient, executive, catches every glance of her mentor. But the older the dog gets, the faster its sense of self-worth grows. So stubbornness and independence are traits that you will almost certainly find in a four-year-old Karelian and seldom in puppies. However, if it seemed to you that the Karelian-Finnish huskies are fixated only on themselves, then it really seemed to you. The Finnish Spitz of the Karelian spill is a good telepath and perfectly feels the mood of its owner. He is far from being slow-witted, so he quickly understands what actions are expected of him, and following this, he builds his own line of behavior.

Karelian-Finnish huskies frankly dislike strangers who suddenly invade private territory, so raising a domestic watchman from a representative of this breed is as easy as shelling pears. As for the kids, the dogs have friendly relations with her, although not always ideal. That is, the Karelian is certainly not averse to playing catch-up with the kids, but in response to violence or outright infringement of his own rights, he can make a warning “Woof!” In general, Karelian-Finnish huskies are very convenient companions not only for professional hunters but also for adherents of an active lifestyle. They will never refuse to run with their owner in city parks and will happily go to any picnic, one has only to whistle.

The main difficulty in training Karelian-Finnish Laikas is the dog’s quick loss of interest in classes. Yes, the Finnish Spitz is ready to learn, but not for long and for a tasty treat. In addition, to work out a command to automatism, a representative of this breed will need at least 25-30 repetitions, which is not so little.

The training of Karelians begins in a standard way – with the pet recognizing its own nickname and the habit of settling down in the place allotted to it in the apartment. You need to work out the basic commands with the puppy very carefully and dosed so as not to overwork the baby. At the age of three months, the Karelian-Finnish Laika should begin to get acquainted with such commands as “Sit!”, “Come to me!”, “No way!” From this age, if you have a spring dog, you can teach her swimming lessons. Start with a simple walk in warm puddles, gradually moving on to swimming in streams and other shallow bodies of water. When the Karelian-Finnish Laika starts hunting, this skill will come in handy. Just do not forget to wash the animal with clean water after each such swim to clean the coat of bacteria and microorganisms living in open water.

At a young age, Karelian-Finnish huskies are extremely destructive creatures, so you have to come to terms with the inevitability of material damage. It is important to understand that the puppy is not playing pranks out of harm, it just develops in this way and gets acquainted with the surrounding reality. If you plan to visit the countryside with a Finnish Spitz, train your dog to respond appropriately to poultry, for which the good old “No!” Command will do. If it was not possible to control the pet, and he has already strangled the chicken or goose, punish the four-legged bully without leaving the scene of the crime. Let it go on the brakes just once, and the Karelian-Finnish Laika will entertain itself for life by hunting bird herds.

Despite the versatility of the breed in terms of hunting, it is more expedient to go on small fur-bearing animals (squirrels, marten) and wood grouses with Karelian-Finnish huskies. The Karelians are excellent at finding and stopping the game, skillfully scaring the animal under a shot, and finally importing the shot prey. Theoretically, it is possible to bait a puppy from the age of four months, but not all huskies at this age have sufficient intelligence. So if at the first lesson the dog does not show interest in the animal, you should wait another month or two. By the way, training a Finnish Spitz on a bear, which has become unexpectedly popular lately, is more of a show than a real hunt. It is one thing to bark at a hooded clubfoot at the baiting station, and quite another to provoke a wild at his native den. Of course, in the biography of individual Karelians, this type of hunting also takes place, but this is already aerobatics, which only a select few succeed in after numerous and tedious training.

Sometimes the hunter’s instinct can doze in the Finnish Spitz for up to one and a half years. You should not be intimidated by this, since the Karelian-Finnish huskies are excellent at making up for the lost time. The main thing is to keep the pet interested in work. For example, you can periodically give your puppy animal skins or a broken bird for personal use. If you have a second dog that has already taken part in the hunt, take that dog as well. Looking at the behavior of an older companion, the puppy will definitely try to copy it.

In working with a large animal, representatives of this breed are especially careful, they do not lose their minds and never forget about the rules of their own safety. The Karelian-Finnish Laika keeps a respectful distance from the angry wild boar, while not ceasing to bark at it. By the way, such a cautious approach does not affect production in any way: red Karelians rarely leave the forest without a trophy.

The Karelian-Finnish Laika is not an open-air cage, and certainly not a chained dog. Her place is in the house, in the company of a kind, understanding owner and his family members. In addition, even though among hunters this variety of husky has a reputation for being “cold-resistant”, Russian frosts are not for her. As a compromise, the pet can be periodically moved to the booth in the yard, but only in the warm season. And by the way, do not really count on the fact that the furry hunter will be very happy with such a move.

It is imperative to equip the puppy with a separate sleeping place in the house, as well as accustom him to it. Otherwise, in your absence, the Finnish Spitz will rest on your own bed. So in the first weeks of a dog’s habitation in your home, do not be too lazy to cover an expensive sofa with newspapers – huskies usually do not encroach on a rustling bed.

From one and a half months Karelian-Finnish huskies begin to walk. The first walks can last 15-20 minutes, but as the dog grows up, they should be increased. It is optimal if the animal is taken outside twice a day for 2-3 hours. This is especially important for Karelians living in a large city, who need to compensate for the lack of opportunities to hunt by walking. By the way, because of the developed pursuing instincts, huskies are taken out of the house on a leash, otherwise, there is a risk of losing the perky saffron milk cap forever.

You will not have to be on duty near the Karelian-Finnish husky with a furminator and lotion to facilitate combing, since the hair of the representatives of this breed is problem-free, almost does not smell like a dog, and sheds twice a year. The Karels is combed with a metal comb a couple of times a week and daily during the molting period. You can bathe an adult dog no more than 2-3 times a year. Remember that the husky, who regularly goes hunting, already takes unscheduled baths, jumping into the swamps for the shot game.

The eyes of the Karelian-Finnish Laika are relatively healthy, not prone to the formation of nitrous oxide, so they do not need special care. The only thing – do not forget to remove lumps from the corners of the eye in the morning, the formation of which is provoked by the dust that has fallen on the mucous. To do this, soak a clean cloth in chamomile infusion and gently wipe your eyes. If you notice purulent discharge, redness, or increased tearfulness in your pet, visit a specialist – such problems cannot be eliminated with herbal decoctions alone.

Once a week, it is necessary to allocate time for a thorough examination of the dog’s ears, and once a month the Karelian-Finnish Laika should have its nails trimmed. Brushing the teeth for Karelians is also mandatory, so every 3-4 days arm yourself with a paste and a cleaning attachment and treat the patient’s mouth. It is more correct to remove plaque in the veterinary office, but preventive measures to combat it can be taken at home. In particular, regularly treat your Finnish Spitz with pressed treats from the pet store and fresh tomatoes.

Like all hunting dogs that regularly travel to the forest, the Karelian-Finnish Laika needs increased protection against ticks, so do not skimp on funds from ectoparasites. In addition, from May to September (peak tick activity), inspect your pet’s fur after a walk. If you notice that a “free passenger” is attached to the carriage, pull it out with a twisting movement of the tweezers and wipe the bite area with chlorhexidine. Now all that remains is to observe the behavior of the animal. If the Karelian-Finnish Laika is playful and eats normally, you can breathe a sigh of relief – you have come across a safe parasite. If the dog refuses food, looks apathetic, has a fever, and the urine has acquired a brownish tint – take it to the veterinarian urgently.

Finnish Spitz against the background of other, larger huskies looks like real little dogs. At the same time, the energy from these red-haired creatures beats with a fountain. Breeders usually already feed three-week-old puppies, so by 2-3 months the Karelian babies completely switch to the adult table. About 20% of a teenage dog’s diet is lean meat. It is better if it is not a frozen product, but a steam room. The first option is also possible, but only after a thorough thawing.

Meat for Karelian-Finnish Laika puppies is always cut into pieces and never in the form of minced meat flying through the digestive tract at an accelerated pace and does not bring satiety. Bone cartilage is also a useful product and a source of natural collagen, so their huskies can be used as early as 7 weeks of age. But with the bones, it is better to wait until the puppy is at least 3 months old.

It is better to start introducing the animal to cereal products with milk semolina, after a month or two replacing it with oatmeal. Millet, rice, buckwheat in the menu of the Finnish Spitz also have a place to be, but they will have to be cooked in meat broth since not a single dog will voluntarily push in the cereal boiled in water. Low-fat sour milk, vegetables (especially carrots), and boneless sea fish are very useful for Karelian-Finnish huskies. Dried fruits (not candied fruits) and cheese will be an excellent treat for a pet, but they should be given in portions and not enough.

The food in the dog’s bowl should be overlaid. If the Karelian-Finnish Laika has not finished eating the proposed dish, the bowl is removed 15 minutes after the start of feeding, and the portion is reduced the next time. This approach disciplines the animal by teaching it not to leave food for the next run. At 8 months old, the puppy begins to eat according to the “adult” schedule, that is, twice a day. 1.5-month-old Karelians are fed often – up to 6 times a day, with each subsequent month reducing the number of meals by one.

Important: Karelian-Finnish huskies who eat natural products need vitamin and mineral supplements since it is extremely difficult to balance the diet of a hunting dog on their own.

Karelian-Finnish huskies have a predisposition to joint dysplasia, dislocation of the extremities and, a little less often, epilepsy. Otherwise, these are quite healthy dogs with strong immunity.

How to choose a puppy?

  • First, look at the puppy’s parents and find out their ages. It is better not to take Karelian-Finnish Laikas from a pair that is too young (a female and a dog less than 1.5 years old).
  • Do not place too high hopes on the working and champion diplomas of the baby’s mom and dad. Winners are not born, they are made.
  • 6-week-old Karelian-Finnish Laika puppies should have ears already. However, there is a small percentage of animals in which the ear canopy rises only by 3 months. In this case, it is better to wait an extra couple of weeks to determine exactly who is in front of you – a worthy representative of the Karelian family or a tiny impostor.
  • Pay attention to the number of puppies in the litter. It is better if there are less than 6 of them.
  • The quality of the baby’s coat is also important, but it should be remembered that the Karelian-Finnish huskies, born in winter, have the most spectacular “fur coats”.
  • Study the pedigree of the potential pet carefully. If the same nicknames with the same numbers are repeated in it, this indicates that the breeder is fond of inbreeding (closely related crossbreeding), and this is fraught with serious deviations in development and external defects for litters.
  • Evaluate the gait of a Karelian-Finnish Laika puppy. A healthy animal should have straight limbs without signs of rickets and move freely. If, before lying down or sitting down, the puppy “thinks”, not everything is all right with his musculoskeletal system.
  • Unkempt puppies with signs of hernia, dirty ears, and festering eyes are undeniably pitying, but taking such an animal means getting a lot of problems in the kit and forever abandoning the dream of walking around the ring with your pet.
Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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